Cameron Smith has officially announced his retirement from rugby league, ahead of the start of the 2021 NRL season tomorrow night.
Smith, 37, finished his career by captaining the Storm to their fourth NRL premiership and his third as a player.
The grand final was Smith’s 430th NRL match, which is the league’s record for most first-grade appearances.
Smith had called time on his representative career in 2018.
He played 56 Tests for Australia and 42 State of Origin matches for Queensland, winning 11 series with the Maroons.
Melbourne Storm revealed the decision on social media, putting out a statement to say Smith had announced his retirement from professional rugby league.
The tweet brought to an end weeks of speculation about whether Smith intended to play on next season.
He told coach Craig Bellamy and long-time football manager Frank Ponissi on Wednesday morning before letting his teammates and club staff know just before the statue formalities.
Smith said he was “wrestling with the idea” for some time.
“I’ve spent a few months up in Queensland with the family and had really good opportunities to think over my thoughts on playing on or not,” Smith said on Wednesday.
“I look back on my career and found I was very fortunate to be part of a wonderful organisation filled with many great footballers and great people and it felt like the right time to finish off the back of what was a very successful season last year.”
The Brisbane-born hooker made his NRL debut with Melbourne in 2002 and has played a record 430 games; the only player in history to surpass 400.
It was Smith’s first official Storm appearance since their 2020 grand final win over Penrith and comes just a day out from the club’s NRL season opener against South Sydney.
It will be the first time Smith hasn’t appeared in a Melbourne round one team since 2003.
Smith said he won’t be at the game as it’s his oldest daughter Jada’s 13th birthday but he intends returning to a home match to farewell the Storm faithful.
He’s the last to retire of Melbourne’s so-called “Big Three”, that included Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater, who were so integral to the club’s sustained success.
Smith’s career was also highlighted by a number of individual honours.
He twice won the Dally M Medal (2006 and 2017) and claimed the Dally M Hooker of the Year award on nine occasions.
Smith is the only player to have played more than 400 NRL matches and holds the record as the highest all-time points scorer in NRL history.
He was a four-time winner of the Wally Lewis Medal, the annual award given to the State of Origin player of the series.
Smith was honoured alongside fellow Storm icon Billy Slater with a statue outside AAMI Park on Wednesday.